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Get On Up Review

Very Good

With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather of Soul's iconic musical talents, although the fragmented script undermines any emotional kick in his story. The film also struggles to build up momentum, because it continually leaps between various chapters in Brown's life. Which means that it never quite connects these disparate episodes into one coherent narrative. Even so, Chadwick Boseman delivers an electrically charged central performance.

Boseman plays James from the time he was 16, thrown into prison for stealing a suit in 1949, until his comeback in the 1990s. Raised in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) after his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) abandoned him, James is in prison when he meets visiting gospel singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in on his release. Together they form The Famous Flames, gaining small-time success as James catches the eye of a manager (Dan Aykroyd), a record executive (Fred Melamed) and the public. A string of major hits followed in the 1950s and 60s, then James went solo in the 70s before the usual issues of fame caught up with him: money, drugs and guns. But he returned to the stage in the 1990s.

The film completely skips over his Hollywood years in the 80s, which wouldn't be a problem if the decade was so notably missing from the film. As the story skips back and forth through the years, the audience is forced to make sense of the disparate scenes, filling in several holes along the way. Aside from one rather surreal scene in a Southern Gospel church, there's never much of a sense of how Brown found his voice or developed his inimitable style. It also never quite captures his impact on the music industry as a whole.

Continue reading: Get On Up Review

Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette

The cast and crew of forthcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' talk about the legacy of the pioneering entertainer and the impact he had following his spectacular live show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem which was subsequently transposed to his 1963 live album entitled 'Live At The Apollo'.

Continue: Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette

Get On Up Trailer

Since he was a child, he knew he'd become a star. He may not have had the easiest life growing up in a poor family and enjoying frequent brushes with the law (something that continued for the rest of his life despite his illustrious career), but he was a pioneer in what he did best. Following his first stint in prison as a teenager, he embarked on a musical career that would create a whole new way of looking at music. His funky rhythms, mind-blowing voice and effortless moves on stage would go on to inspire artists for generations even if his troubled personal life left much to be desired. He even took his soul magic to Vietnam during the 20-year conflict - a venture that demonstrated both his patriotism and his bravery. This is the story of James Brown.

Continue: Get On Up Trailer

Get On Up - Featurette

The stars of the upcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up', Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis and Octavia Spencer, talk about the legendary musician alongside artists Ice Cube, Pharrell, Mick Jagger, Cee-Lo Green and Aloe Blacc in a short featurette ahead of the film's release on September 26th 2014.

Continue: Get On Up - Featurette

Fruitvale Station Review


With his debut feature, writer-director Ryan Coogler recreates a real-life event with remarkable artistry. Even though the factual story is overwhelmed with emotion and political opinion, he never lets either swamp this film, remaining earthy and realistic in ways that allow the audience to experience what happens in a startlingly intimate, complex way.

Set over one day, New Year's Eve 2008, the film follows Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 23-year-old on the cusp of some pivotal life choices. He loves his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their young daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal), so knows he has to stop dealing drugs and chasing women. This morning he lost his job just before throwing a birthday party for his mother (Octavia Spencer). And now he's heading across the bay to San Francisco with Sophina and his pals to celebrate 2009. But on the way home, a fight breaks out as their train pulls into Fruitvale Station, and two transport cops (Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray) take heavy-handed action to calm the situation.

The film opens with actual video footage of the fateful moment, as captured on a witness' mobile phone, so there's no surprise about where this is heading. Even so, the climactic sequence is so shocking that the emotionally devastation is almost unbearable. As is the outrage that police are allowed to profile racially, which in this case turned an easily resolved situation into something fatal. Amazingly, Coogler never loses his cool, fluidly writing and directing with a grounded honesty that makes everything that much more urgent.

Continue reading: Fruitvale Station Review

Snowpiercer Trailer

In a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly ice age has taken over the Earth, there are only a few survivors, all of whom have taken shelter in an enormous train propelled by perpetual motion. While the rich and powerful live in luxury at the front end of the locomotive, the poor have been forced to dwell at the tail with limited supplies by the dictatorial Minister Mason. During a routine deliverance of protein blocks, one tail inhabitant, Curtis, decides to round up a rebel army to invade the front, though no-one could have imagined the amount of bloodshed the ensuing revolt would trigger. In a bid to destroy the barbaric class hierarchy this new life has caused, Curtis plots a major act of disaster. It starts to look like the human race really will be the death of themselves.

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Video - Emily Deschanel And David Tennant Are Snapped At FOX Upfronts - Part 4

'Bones' star Emily Deschanel and 'Gracepoint' actor David Tennant were among the TV guests at the FOX Network Upfront presentation held at The Beacon Theater in New York. The latter is new to American television with his crime drama series that is based on the original British series 'Broadchurch'.

Continue: Video - Emily Deschanel And David Tennant Are Snapped At FOX Upfronts - Part 4

Octavia Spencer Announced As Newest Cast Member Of 'Divergent Sequel 'Insurgent'

Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer will be starring in the upcoming sci-fi epic 'Insurgent.'

The Academy-Award winning actress will be joining the likes of Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet as the newest cast member of the 'Divergent' sequel.

Lionsgate made the announcement on Monday (May 12th).

Continue reading: Octavia Spencer Announced As Newest Cast Member Of 'Divergent Sequel 'Insurgent'

James Brown Biopic 'Get On Up' Will Make Chadwick Boseman A Star And Have You Dancing For Days [Trailer + Pictures]

Chadwick Boseman Mick Jagger Viola Davis Octavia Spencer

The trailer has been released for the upcoming James Brown biopic, Get On Up, which promises to bring the greatly adored "Godfather of Soul" back to life. This summer's movie will see Persons Unknown actor Chadwick Boseman hit the big time as he embodies the larger-than-life singer and founding father of funk.

Get On Up Movie Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman Stars As James Brown In An Upcoming Biopic.

Named after one of Brown's most famous songs, Get On Up will chart the late artist's upbringing from a poor background and being passed around by guardians. James turned to crime as a youngster which earned him time in a juvenile detention centre where his interest in and subsequently passion for gospel music was forged.

Continue reading: James Brown Biopic 'Get On Up' Will Make Chadwick Boseman A Star And Have You Dancing For Days [Trailer + Pictures]

Get On Up Trailer

James Brown didn't have the easiest childhood being born to two young parents who were so poor they could barely afford to live. After just a few years, his mother left him and he was raised by his aunt who, although was equally as financially insecure, resolved to love him as her own. Naturally, given his tough background, James turned to crime as a youth and spent time in a juvenile detention centre following an armed robbery conviction. It was there he took his passion for music seriously and decided to form a gospel band with some fellow inmates. Following his parole, he joined another gospel group and from there spiralled an illustrious career in funk and soul music that took the entire world by storm. Just as he dreamed, he became one of the music industry's most revered stars, but, alas, he also became one of the most troubled.

Continue: Get On Up Trailer

Video - Jonah Hill Joins Celebs At The 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala - Part 5

Several stars from Martin Scorsese's corporate crime drama 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' were snapped on their arrival at the 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala in New York including Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau and Rob Reiner.

Continue: Video - Jonah Hill Joins Celebs At The 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala - Part 5

10 Best Films Of 2013

Chiwetel Ejiofor Steve McQueen Matt Damon Rob Lowe Michael Douglas Sarah Polley Lake Bell Paul Greengrass Tom Hanks Ryan Coogler Michael B. Jordan Octavia Spencer James McAvoy Christian Bale Bradley Cooper Jennifer Lawrence Amy Adams


10. Behind The Candelabra - Sadly consigned to TV in America, this Liberace biopic's lavish production design deserves to be projected on the biggest screen possible. As do great performances from Michael Douglas, Matt Damon and a hilarious Rob Lowe.
Read our 'Behind The Candelabra' Review
Watch 'Behind The Candelabra' Trailer


Continue reading: 10 Best Films Of 2013

'Paradise' - Julianne Hough Is A Little Lamb Coming Of Age [Trailer + Stills]

Julianne Hough Russell Brand Octavia Spencer

In Paradise, the appropriately named Lamb Mannerheim takes the scenic route in coming of age. Scarred for life but still alive after a plane crash, Lamb shocks her home-town by taking off to Las Vegas where she meets William, a carefree bartender played by Russell Brand and Loray, a lounge singer with the cynicism to influence our main character into trying new things.

Julianne Hough Russell Brand Octavia Spencer in ParadiseJulianne Hough Russell Brand Octavia Spencer in Paradise

"I've got a heart full of rage and an L.L. Bean tote bag full of cash," Lamb says in the trailer. "I just want to experience worldly pleasures for the first time…the basic abominations," she adds. But are we in line for another coming of age story?

Continue reading: 'Paradise' - Julianne Hough Is A Little Lamb Coming Of Age [Trailer + Stills]

Paradise Trailer

Lamb Mannerheim was a beautiful, smart, strictly religious, perfect young girl and the pride of both her parents and her local parish. That is until one day, when an accident changed her views on faith forever. Lamb suffered extreme burns over two thirds of her body after a traumatic plane crash and now she feels it's time to question her religion and all she previously believed in; after all, why had she suffered so much while trying to be as virtuous as possible? Throwing caution to the wind and horrifying her parents, she takes a vacation to none other than Las Vegas to experience the sin and debauchery she knows exist in the world. On the way she meets the glamorous lounge singer Loray and a British bartender named William who take her on a journey of freedom to fulfil her bucket list of sin and make her see that there's more to life than prayer and etiquette.

Continue: Paradise Trailer

Justin Long Will Star With Anna Faris In CBS' New Comedy 'Mom'

Justin Long Anna Faris Chuck Lorre Octavia Spencer Allison Janney Nathan Corddry

CBS' comedy Mom has added Justin Long to its cast. Chuck Lorre made the announcement at a promotional event for the series. He told the gathered press Octavia Spencer would also be making a guest appearance in an early episode.

justin long
Justin Long at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, New York.

Chuck Lorre, the executive producer and creator of the comedy, announced Long would be involved in the project. He will star opposite Anna Faris and act as her love interest. Faris, playing Christy, is the 'Mom' in question. She is a recovering alcoholic who decides to relocate with her children to the Napa Valley, California. 

Continue reading: Justin Long Will Star With Anna Faris In CBS' New Comedy 'Mom'

Go See This Movie: 'Fruitvale Station' Is An 'Unstoppable Cinematic Force'

Michael B. Jordan Melonie Diaz Octavia Spencer

Fruitvale Station - the new Oscar-tipped most by Ryan Coogler - tells the story of one of America's most unjust killings. In the early hours of New Year's Day, 2009, a young Bay Area kid by the name of Oscar Grant III was unarmed and lying face down on a subway platform in Oakland, California. Seconds later, he was shot in the back by a police officer.

The grainy cell phone footage captured by onlookers incited protests and unrest across the country, opening up a debate on law and order, violence and race, as noted in the New York Times. 'Fruitvale Station' - a movie snapped up by Harvey Weinstein for $2 million at the Sundance Film Festival - takes on extra significance given the roots of its director.

Coogler, 27, is a Bay Area native who went to film school at the University of South California. He remembers the incident all too well and does a stunning job of reconstructing it with the help of his cast Michael B. Jordan (The Wire), Melonie Diaz and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer

Continue reading: Go See This Movie: 'Fruitvale Station' Is An 'Unstoppable Cinematic Force'

Fruitvale Station Stuns Sundance And Cannes, Next Stop The Oscars? [Trailer]

Michael B. Jordan Harvey Weinstein Forest Whitaker Octavia Spencer

Few had even heard of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station before it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It was snapped up by Harvey Weinstein, who has a well-documented knack of taking little known movies from the film festival and turning them into Oscars gold. Will he do the same with this gritty drama? The signs look good.

Watch the Fruitvale Station trailer!

Based on a true story, it stars The Wire's Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old living in the San Francisco Bay area. As the New Year approaches, he become determines to turn around his life and provide for his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter. After boarding a particularly crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train, Oscar manages to get involved in a fight with some old adversaries and when the BART police are called, he is detained along with other passengers at Fruitvale Station. Through a cruel twist of fate, he is accidentally fatally shot in the early hours by a police officer who withdrew his gun rather than his intended taser. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) plays Grant's mother, while Best Actor Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) is one of the film's producers. This thing has pedigree.

It is due for US release on July 26th 2013, though reaction at this week's Cannes Film Festival - where it is competing in the Un Certain Regard competition - has been unanimously positive. Xan Brooks of The Guardian wrote, "Fruitvale Station made a noise at Sundance, was snapped up by the Weinsteins and played out to roaring approval here in the Un Certain Regard section."

Continue reading: Fruitvale Station Stuns Sundance And Cannes, Next Stop The Oscars? [Trailer]

Fruitvale Station Trailer

Oscar Grant is a 22-year-old living in the San Francisco Bay Area who hasn't lived a particularly squeaky clean life. However, as the 2009 New Year comes nearer, he determinedly decides to shape-up and become an honest human being attempting to provide for his girlfriend and his 4-year-old daughter and make his mother proud. Unfortunately, a fresh start isn't always that easy and as December 31st 2008 comes to a close, he begins to cross paths with those not healthy in his pursuit of redemption; enemies, old friends and acquaintances he'd rather not see. Preparing to celebrate the New Year with his woman, he catches a particularly crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train but manages to get involved in a fight with some old adversaries. When the BART police are called, Oscar is detained along with some other passengers at Fruitvale Station and, through a cruel twist of fate, it becomes the last stop he'll ever make.

'Fruitvale Station' is based on the true story of Oscar Grant who was accidentally fatally shot by a police officer who, through his panic, withdrew a gun rather than his intended taser. It is the full length feature debut of Ryan Coogler and the winner of the Sundance Film Festival 2013 Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It is due for US release on July 26th 2013.

Click here to read Fruitvale Station movie review

Jennifer Aniston Steals The Show At 'Call Me Crazy' Premiere [Pictures]

Jennifer Aniston Melissa Leo Octavia Spencer Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Aniston stunned at the Los Angeles premiere of her upcoming television movie 'Call Me Crazy: A Five Film' this week. The former Friends star executive produced the movie - a compilation of short films about mental illness premiering April 20 on the Lifetime channel. At the premiere, Aniston joked that he's a total "pushover" when in charge.

For a television movie, Call Me Crazy boasts a pretty impressive looking cast, with Jennifer Hudson, Brittany Snow and Oscar winners Melissa Leo and Octavia Spencer. "We were lucky to get the cast that we got," Aniston told the BBC at Tuesday's premiere, "We want to our dream team and we just had all the star align, and people were just willing and excited to jump on board just because they wanted to be a part of this topic of mental illness. To remove the stigma to remove the shame."

Hudson gives a stirring performance in a particularly emotional role, saying, "I'm passionate about the things I do, and I felt that this was something that was worth doing. Mental illness is something that's there, that we don't realise it's there. I definitely wanted the chance to help raise awareness."

Continue reading: Jennifer Aniston Steals The Show At 'Call Me Crazy' Premiere [Pictures]

Smashed Review


Despite taking a full-on approach to the issue of alcoholism, filmmaker Ponsoldt undermines his own case by telling a story about the problem itself rather than the people caught up in it. And by avoiding the bigger questions, he leaves us with characters and a situation that are hard to care about, no matter how harrowing the story gets.

Schoolteacher Kate (Winstead) is a mess. Out drinking every night with her husband Charlie (Paul), she turns up drunk to teach her classroom of 6-year-olds. One morning when she's sick, she lets them believe she's pregnant. But lying to the kids sparks her guilt, which gets worse when a colleague (Offerman) covers for her and her boss (Mullally) throws a baby shower. So she joins AA and gets help from her sponsor Jenny (Spencer) to straighten out her life. But once she's sober she wonders whether she can stay with the still-drunk Charlie.

Essentially the film lets all of the characters off the hook since it's the alcohol that's the real villain, not any failing of willpower or self-discipline. In this world, it's not possible to be "the kind of people who have a glass of wine with dinner": you're either a falling-down drunk or a pious teetotaller. And even worst, both Kate and Charlie have tragic back-stories that explain why they are alcoholics. So the film's approach is purely superficial, which makes it impossible to identify with the characters or even root for them to sort out their messy lives.

Continue reading: Smashed Review

Octavia Spencer

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Octavia Spencer

Date of birth

25th May, 1970








Octavia Spencer Movies

The Shape Of The Water Trailer

The Shape Of The Water Trailer

It's 1963 and Elisa (Sally Hawkins) has spent her life trying to be as normal...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

The Shack Trailer

The Shack Trailer

Mackenzie Phillips set out for the family vacation of a lifetime with three of his...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Gifted Trailer

Gifted Trailer

Mary is a bright and happy little girl who lives with her uncle, Frank; he...

The Great Gilly Hopkins Trailer

The Great Gilly Hopkins Trailer

Gilly Hopkins is a little girl who's full of gumption and an attitude to boot....

Bad Santa 2 Trailer

Bad Santa 2 Trailer

Since we last met Willie T. Stokes, his life has had plenty of ups and...

Hidden Figures Trailer

Hidden Figures Trailer

Even from a young age, Katherine Johnson's family and teachers knew she was made for...

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy,...

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Movie Review

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Movie Review

After the more thrilling Insurgent, this saga reverts to the talky style of the original...

Insurgent Movie Review

Insurgent Movie Review

A sharp improvement on the original, this second entry in The Divergent Series has a...

Black Or White Trailer

Black Or White Trailer

When a young girl's mother dies in childbirth, she is sent to live with her...

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

Following on from the events of 'Divergent', the mysterious government has discovered a magical maguffin...